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Family seek bone marrow donors and funds to help save rock guitarist’s life


A desperate Warrington family is urging people to become bone marrow donors and donate funds to help save the life of local man John Ollier who has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease.

John from Culcheth,  is well known on the local music circuit as the lead guitarist Warrington’s local classic rock covers band Black Thursday.

In October last year he felt ill with high temperatures and ‘flu-like symptoms. A doctor’s examination told him that he had a virus, and to ‘sit it out’ with paracetamol and sore throat lozenges.

After two more weeks, he was told that it could be tonsillitis and was given antibiotics, and on the third visit an appointment was arranged for a blood test. He didn’t make that appointment, as on 4th November he was admitted to A&E in Warrington with a racing heartbeat and other serious symptoms. The next day he was told that he had leukaemia, and was rushed to Whiston hospital in St Helens by ambulance.

A further diagnosis at the hospital confirmed he had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and would need three courses of chemotherapy over several months. At that stage he was very poorly, with widespread pneumonia and other infections, and no immune system at all.

After the first course lasting six weeks he was out of danger and allowed home to recuperate before the next course early in January. He was home for Christmas, and he and his fiancée, Anne Daybell, were married in Warrington at the end of December.

Two more courses of chemotherapy followed, with some good news at the end of the third session. He was in good remission, and would only need to be a day patient for a few months, and then three-monthly checks at an outpatient clinic for a year.

However, the week before he was due to be discharged from Whiston his specialist gave his family some bad news. It was already known that John had a genetic mutation that caused the leukaemia, but a further genetic test had flagged a new mutation, of which John’s is a rare form. Up until then his leukaemia was under control but it turned out that the chemotherapy wasn’t enough and now he desperately needs a bone marrow transplant, as soon as possible.

In his doctor’s words, this is ‘big treatment’. It’s far more toxic for his organs, and there are many risks along the way which will be life threatening. His care will be transferred to Liverpool Royal Hospital under a new team of specialists.

John, Anne and their family are in shock, and completely devastated.

“It was hard to accept the first time he was diagnosed, we couldn’t believe it was happening,” says Anne. “But now John is facing an even bigger battle. His treatment will be so difficult for him. This journey is far from straightforward, and far from being over. Without a bone marrow transplant the disease will prove fatal for John.”

There are two other barriers to his successful treatment and recovery. He needs a bone marrow donor as soon as possible. His two adult children are being tested as possible donors, and either may be a half match, but a full 100% match donor is preferable for John. He’s on the bone marrow recipient register, but it may take time to find a good match for him.

In the meantime, there is a drug that may help, which will inhibit the gene that has mutated, but this isn’t available on the NHS for John’s rare form of leukaemia. One dose, lasting one month, costs £11,000, and he may need several doses. It’s been shown that it could help to put him in a better position before his treatment, as it will curb the development of more mutating cells which could give him more time for a suitable donor to be found. This drug has also been shown to improve prognosis for recovery after treatment.

John is currently relying on a fourth (initially unplanned) course of chemotherapy at Whiston hospital during the next few weeks to help him stay alive before undergoing the bone marrow transplant as soon as a donor can be found, but time is running out, this is John’s last chance of survival.

Seventy five per cent of patients won’t find a matching donor in their families. More bone marrow donors are required, not just for John, but for the 2000+ people who are in need of bone marrow or stem cells in the UK every year.

Getting on the register is simple. If you’re aged between 17 and 55, just register at www.dkms.org.uk and request a cheek swab. This will be sent in the post, and you can do it in seconds in the comfort of your own home. It’s a much simpler process to donate than it used to be, and donors are usually back to work the next day. The best match is a white Caucasian male, of which there are plenty around Warrington.

As a family, they can’t raise the £11,000+ on their own so they are looking for individuals and businesses to help save John’s life.

So far they have managed to raise over £3,000 towards their £5,000 target.

To donate, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-ollier

All donations will go directly to help fund John’s vital treatment.

Read about Acute Myeloid Leukaemia here: https://bit.ly/2tSj4p6

John & Anne at their wedding

John performing on stage


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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